WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service will no longer require tax filers to indicate whether they had health coverage or paid a penalty set under Obamacare, dealing a blow to a pillar of the healthcare law, the website Reason.com reported.
Republican President Donald Trump, who has pledged to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act, signed an order on Jan. 20, his first day in office, to freeze regulations and take other steps to weaken the law known as Obamacare.
Republicans, who have the majority in Congress, are trying to craft a replacement for the law enacted by former Democratic president Barack Obama. Twenty million Americans gained health insurance under the law.
Obamacare’s so-called individual mandate requires Americans to carry health insurance or face a penalty. Taxpayers have been required to include their health coverage status when filing tax forms.
Reason.com, the website of the monthly free-market-oriented magazine Reason, reported late on Tuesday that the IRS, citing Trump’s executive order, said it would no longer require taxpayers to declare their coverage status on their tax forms.
“The IRS has decided to make changes that would continue to allow electronic and paper returns to be accepted for processing in instances where a taxpayer doesn’t indicate their coverage status,” it quoted the IRS as saying in a statement.
“Processing silent returns means that taxpayer returns are not systemically rejected, allowing them to be processed and minimizing burden on taxpayers, including those expecting a refund,” the statement said.
Republicans have opposed Obamacare as federal overreach and Tom Price, a vocal opponent of Obamacare, was sworn in last week as U.S. secretary of health.
Price, a member of the House of Representatives since 2005 who chaired the budget committee, offered legislation in 2015 to repeal Obamacare and replace it with age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of health insurance. (Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Editing by Bill Trott)